A wolf ate the boat. The boat was a prop for Vincent Ward's epic romance and arctic
adventure, Map of the Human Heart. In the relative warmth of a Canadian Arctic spring
afternoon, at minus 20 degrees, building another prop boat was a great way to stay warm
for the crew, many of whom had never worked with Vincent Ward before, otherwise they may
have expected this.
"our view of the world is similar"
"I have often lived in indegenous communities and I have travelled around this
Arctic area before. Coming from one edge of the world - New Zealand - our view of the
world is similar and it's not such a big step, since we are still on the OUTER
Ward, a New Zealander by birth, but an adopted Australian, made his previous film on
top of New Zealand's coldest mountain, either up to his stubbly chin in freezing volcanic
lake water, or deep inside cavernous hollows dank with age. That film, The Navigator, was
only his second feature film, but like his first, Vigil, it was invited to Competition at
"a love story about two outsiders,"
With a 13 week shoot and a budget of US$16 million, (which was marginally overshot) Map
of the Human Heart spans 30 years including World War II. "It is essentially a love
story about two outsiders," says Ward, "who are neither white nor Indian
(Inuit), caught between cultures."
Jason Scott Lee plays Avik, the young half breed; Anne Parillaud plays Albertine, a
Metis Indian girl at the centre of the clash between Avik and the sophisticated Walter
Russell (Patrick Bergin), who meets the young Albertine when he leads a cartographical
expedition - in reality a spying mission.
Ben Mendelsohn (Spotswood) plays Farmboy, a young Australian who becomes Avik's best
The film combines the elements of a dramatic love story, a wartime adventure, and a
visual roller coaster; Ward and his cinematographer Eduardo Serra were determined to
create memorable images, just as Ward had done in The Navigator - powerful, haunting
"It's obviously a lot of filming against white, and lots of chopper shots. But I
don't like the way colour film handles midday sunlight, so I tried to avoid that. Either
by shooting inside, or filming more at the end of the day."
"Inuit art is almost all topographical.."
The unusually harsh setting - for a love story - came about for a variety of reasons,
all of them to do with Vincent Ward's personal background, his area of interest and his
"The story conceptually has to do with map making," he explains. "Inuit
art is almost all topographical...they've always had a sense of their place as if viewed
Ward developed the project himself, and took it to Working Title, where Tim Bevan's
Polygram connections were engaged. Ward also involed Tim White, an old friend from art
school days, and a prolific Australian producer (Spotswood, Death In Brunswick, Eightball,
Celia, and co-producer, The Big Steal).
Polygram provided the principal finance, but a number of presales and co-production
partners were picked up along the way. The Australian Film Finance Corporation, although a
minority investor, also has a substantial equity. White describes the financial package as
"incredibly complex", with some 15 partners in all.
The most substantial presales came from Miramax for US rights, and Films Ariane for
France. In Australia, where all distributors expressed interest, Hoyts (Distribution) has
acquired the film.